The Cost of Being Holier-than-Much-Of-The-Music-Industry.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Although I am definitely one sounding an alarm about the evils of many music industry practices, I do get weary sometimes of hearing some musicians whining. I get weary sometimes because I know that with a few questions, I will discover that the musicians in question are whining to justify their own use of other people’s songs without getting the proper licenses.
Look. I know that much of the music industry is unfair. I just need some artists to get up and decide that they are not going to say, “Well, since they get to be evil, I can be evil too.” Let me help you do right. When it comes to getting a license to cover other folks’ songs, the cost of being just a little better than a lot of the music industry is only 9 to 10 cents per song.
Read it again. The cost of properly licensing the songs you want to sing on your albums is going to be 9 to 10 cents per song, per copy. For a dime, in essence, you can behave better than a whole lot of big wigs of the music industry.
Under the laws governing copyright in the United States, all you need to legally cover someone else’s song is to get what is called a mechanical license from the song’s copyright owner (could be the songwriter, could be the songwriter’s publisher).
This mechanical license, this granting of permission, will usually cost you 9.1 cents per copy you intend to make of any song that is less than five minutes (the exception being if the song is going to be licensed for the very first time, but that is a rare case on the level at which most of us work). Think you might record your favorite song and then distribute and/or sell 100 downloads of your cover? That’ll be $9.10. Think after that you can move 1,000 more copies of your cover? That is still only $91 more. So, for $100.10, you can legally share 1,100 copies of your version of your song, or simply share a thousand times for $91.
What if your favorite song is five minutes or more? That same mechanical license will only cost you 1.75 cents a minute. Let’s say your favorite song is six minutes. That is only 10.5 cents per copy. Thus, for $105, you can make and share 1,000 copies of your favorite songs.
Let’s say you don’t have time to track down the copyright holders of your song; that’s fine. You can hire somebody who knows all those copyright holders for about $15 per song. If you think you will make 2,500 copies or more of a particular song, and you can prove you’re ready to deal with big business, head on over to the Harry Fox Agency, at http://www.harryfox.com. If you think you will make make fewer than 2,500 copies of a song, or you find you’re not ready for Harry, roll on over to Limelight at http://www.songclearance.com. Both offer discounts on their fees if you license multiple songs at one time.
Now think about it. For a few dollars, you can truly be better than much of the music industry. You can pay songwriters and composers what their music is worth; you can NOT be part of the system of exploitation that has left musicians broken and broke. You can do what is right, so do it; when you get ready to cover other folks’ songs, dig out a few dollars and get the mechanical license you need to be legal. Enjoy being on the side of the angels!
Staff Writer; Deeann D. Mathews
You may connect with this talented sister via twitter; Deeann D. Mathews.
She is also author of The Freedom Guide for Music Creators which can be purchased from the website of Marcus Bookstores, the oldest African American bookstore in the world: http://marcusfillmore.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/c8/.”